In this episode, I catch up with TEDx speaker and author Dai Manuel.
Dai brings to his work his personal story of the challenges he overcame to become a wellness coach and run a multimillion-dollar business.
Dai explains how, when he started to bring more vulnerability into his writing, everything changed for him. His coaching clients increased, and he secured more public speaking gigs, including TEDx.
I was interested in finding out from Dai what it was like to give a TEDx talk, and I was fascinated to discover the amount of work and editing that goes into it.
Dai reveals how he worked with a team of editors and public speaking coaches who helped him perfect his talk and how much he learned from the whole process.
In this episode we discuss:
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Dai: And it’s in storytelling that we really do elicit a lot of emotions. We can. We really can. And if you connect with them on that emotional level, they remember the story. They remember how it made them feel, remember the impact, and that’s always what I’ve wanted to do. I just wanna try to, like I said, educate, inspire, and motivate and try to do it in a fun and engaging way and I found that the most effective way to do that is with story.
Introduction: Welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast with Bryan Collins. Here, you’ll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.
Bryan: How can you bring more vulnerability into your work, into your writing, and into your content?
Hi, my name is Bryan Collins, and welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast. When you first start writing, it can be difficult to be honest because you might be worried about what people will think.
I know that certainly happened to me when I started writing personal essays and when I started writing fiction. I worried about what would happen if family members read it, what they would think of me, and if we’d fall out over something I wrote or perhaps even something I said, but the thing is, it’s better to put all of your ideas into your work and then later on when you’re finished, you can figure out what to take out or what to remove.
After writing a collection of short stories, which didn’t really sell that much, I also learned an important lesson for content creators and for writers. Basically, the problem isn’t what people will think of your work when you’re starting out, it’s actually capturing their attention in the first place.
So, why hold back? You may as well be honest and then if there’s something that you really think you don’t want people to know, then you can always take it out later on.
Now, putting vulnerability into writing, into your talks, your podcasts, or whatever type of content you’re creating is the topic for this week’s podcast episode. I caught up with Dai Manuel. He’s based in Canada and he’s a TEDx speaker and author. One of the things Dai brings to his work is his personal story and some of the challenges he’s overcome to become a wellness coach and to run a multimillion-dollar business. In the first part of the interview, we talk all about how you can bring more vulnerability into your work or into your writing or into your content and Dai explains how, when he started to do this, everything changed. He started finding more coaching clients and more public speaking gigs.
In fact, he’s a TEDx speaker and I’ve got a link to his TEDx talk in the show notes, but I wanted to see what it was like to really give a TEDx talk and I was fascinated to discover the amount of work and the amount of editing that goes into a public talk like this. In fact, a TEDx talk is a little bit like a book. When you see the finished product, it doesn’t necessarily reveal all of the work and all of the editing that went on behind it.
And Dai explains how he worked with a team of editors and public speaking coaches who helped him perfect his talk until it was ready to publish and he talks about how much he learned from the whole process. So, if you’re interested in public speaking and how it can help you grow your business, then hang on for the second part of the interview.
If you enjoy the show, please consider leaving a short review on iTunes, on Overcast, or on Stitcher. You can also become a Patreon supporter for a couple of dollars a month and I’ll give you discounts on my writing courses, software, and books. You can also reach out to me on Twitter, it’s @bryanjcollins, and just let me know what you’re up to or what you’re writing and I’d love to hear if you got questions for topics for the show or feedback.
Now, let’s go over to this week’s interview with Dai Manuel.
Dai: Bryan, thank you so, so much, man. It’s — I know we’ve been chatting a lot back and forth through e-mails and other platforms but it’s so cool to finally sit down and connect with you. So, I’m honored to be here.
Bryan: Yeah, I’m looking forward to talking to you because you have a big idea inside of your TED Talk which I wanted to dive into with you. Before we get to that, could you give listeners a flavor for who you are and your background?
Dai: Oh, sure. Well, I’ll give you the shorter version. I’m 44 years young and a dad of two teenage girls, they’re 16 and 18 as of the last month, and, as I say, they’re just little women and I’ve been dating my wife now for 21 years, which is, at times, I think that is actually my biggest accomplishment just because of me and who I’ve been and all the changes I’ve gone through which I’m sure we’ll touch on later.
It makes me just realize that the love we have for one another is truly enduring. And, on top of that, I’ve been in the wellness space for 26 years, my entire adult life. It’s the space that I’ve played in the most, that I love, and I just help people. I help them with making big, big shifts, big transformations, but the best way to do that, Bryan, is just I help people get out of their own way, you know?
Shift their perspective just enough that they can see the obstacles and the things that are holding them back in a different light and, more often than not, they just see that, “Wow, this thing that I thought was absolutely immense and was gonna be an insurmountable obstacle, it’s actually — I can see a little path around the side.” It’s amazing how that can happen if we just have the right conversation with the right person with the right mindset, the right time, usually, the right results ensue.
So, yeah, that’s pretty much me. That’s a snapshot of what’s going on in my life these days.
Bryan: 22 years, that’s quite a while. When did you start publishing content online or writing books and videoing?
Dai: Yeah, I guess — well, on the written word, I mean, I’ve written like all the way back even in high school days, I remember just loving creative writing and loving to read as well, just consuming both fiction and non-fiction books and that just is a passion that I still have to today but, really, having a lot of intention around creating content, especially content that helps — I have filters, Bryan.
So, my filter for creating content is I aim to always educate, motivate, and inspire and try to do it in a fun way. Like those are — when I’m asking myself, okay, I’m posting a piece right now, what filter am I passing it through? And, ideally, I would try to pass it through all of those, you know, and be able to check those boxes off. And so having that intention with the content I create, it’s been going on 14 years now, started with my own blog and it just sort of ventured into other social media platforms as they started to pop up like the Facebooks and the Instagrams and even the Clubhouse, you know, most recently, so —
Bryan: Oh, you’re on Clubhouse.
Dai: I’m on it. I’m not super active. I’m on there and I’m a consumer right now. I’m not a producer on Clubhouse yet. I’ll just always say “yet” because you never know what’s gonna happen.
So, and, yeah, that’s me. I like to tell stories through online means because I realized a long time ago, as much as an impact as I wanted to create in the world, I saw this potential in this online space and it was just growing and growing and growing and I was like, man, someone that was geographically doing a lot within Vancouver, where I’m living, I was able to do a lot of great things in the community but I was like, “Ah, I wanna do more, I wanna impact more people,” and so that’s where I saw online being just a wonderful vehicle to make that impact, to not have any more boundaries or, literally, borders that would prevent me from impacting some other audiences so that’s really what it’s been, you know?
I have to be honest with you, Bryan, it’s opened up a lot of doors for me just from the standpoint that it’s connected me with some amazing individuals and it had made some amazing introductions which have provided me some pretty remarkable opportunities to just do what I love and I think all of us who are in this space experience that to some level and it’s wonderful, isn’t it? I mean, it’s very fulfilling.
Bryan: It is a great opportunity to connect to people around the world when you’re publishing work online. So, a key idea inside of your work is the five F’s. I just wanna give listeners a flavor for the type of wellness that you teach. What are the five F’s or could you describe them?
Dai: Alliteration, all right? Alliteration, metaphors, similes. I mean, they help us learn, right? They help us take complex and simplify those ideas into practical, bite-sized, digestible content and so the five F’s, when I look at my own life and I look at some of my values and I look at the struggles that I’ve had to endure with my own health and well-being right back from the time when I was morbidly obese as a teenager up to the age of 14 to even in my early 30s, I struggled with alcohol abuse and certain substance abuses and I just look at these — some people call ’em high points, some people might call ’em low points, they were just points along the road for me and I had to figure out how to shift some things and when I look at the people that I’ve connected with, either directly or indirectly, both online and offline, we all share very similar struggles.
They may not be exactly the same, but as soon as people start opening up and sharing what some of their biggest challenges are, actually practicing a skill like vulnerability, to be honest and open with people about what we’re working through, it gives other people permission to also open up and as soon as they open up, we realize, “Man, me too. Me too. Me too.” Everyone’s like, “Hey —” And, all of a sudden, we’re like, “Man, I don’t feel so damn alone. I guess this isn’t as big of a deal as I originally thought it was, like nobody will understand me, no one will understand what I’m going through,” right? Like these are the way I used to think and as soon as I started talking about it, people were like, “Oh, me too,” and I was like, jeez, why aren’t we talking about this more?
And so this was sort of the seeds that were planted along the way as I’ve sort of been going through this process of my own self-discovery and self-realization as far as things that I wanna do and aligning what I do to actually bring me closer to those results, I’ve realized that a lot of people struggle with health, and I’m talking mental health, I’m talking physical health, I’m talking psychological, even spiritual health. We all struggle with it because we’re looking to try to find what we all call balance, right? We hear that term “work-life balance” and I remember years ago, I forget where I read it but someone was talking about that and they’re like, “It’s just an illusion.
It’s absolute garbage,” because as soon as you start focusing on one thing, so if you focus on work, you can’t focus on life at the same time, right? So it’s a matter of trying to move back and forth between our two areas of — ’cause but at no single time is it gonna be in balance, you know? And because whatever has got our attention is usually what’s gonna get our energy and, for me, I realized that I wanted to create something simple that people could use to at least get them a really good solid habit of building a foundation of health first, meaning that if you think about your life, Bryan, and you think about the values and the things that are most important to you, I want you to envision and use like a metaphor of a house as your life, right?
So, if you think about it, you’re gonna be an architect for your life. You design your life the way you want it. Think about how we build a house. There’s a foundation that you gotta build everything on. For me, I say the foundation is health. Then I’ve got my four walls. I’m talking about more of my grade school drawings of a house here, right? Okay?
So just bear with me here. Four walls and a roof and my four walls and the roof, I use the letter F and this is where the five F’s come from so it’s alliteration just for memory but it’s also just an easy way for me to explain it. So, my four walls are fitness, faith, finances, and family with an overarching roof of fun and that’s how I look at my life. I’m like those are the areas that need my attention and when I’m focusing or I’m not focusing on certain areas, it either gets stronger or it gets weaker, but you think about the analogy of a house, well, think about storms.
Our life, we endure storms all the time, we feel challenged, and if our house is structurally sound, we can endure those storms when they happen and so you can sort of play out this analogy but that’s where the five F’s come into play and realize this, so those that are listening to this, if you just play out this analogy, maybe it’s not five F’s for you but maybe there’s other values that are important to you, but until you know what those values are, and some people call ’em core values, you know, some call ’em guiding principles, you know, core beliefs, whatever you wanna call it, it’s the things that if we were having a conversation today, Bryan, and then 10 years from now and I asked you, “Hey, what are your core beliefs? What are the things that you believe to be absolutely true and they’re non-negotiable beliefs in your life?”
I believe, I truly believe that what you say today will probably be very similar to what you say 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 30 years from now, and that’s how you can really define them as those guiding principles. So, for me, family is, of course, one of those principles. And when I’m not in alignment, if I’m not giving my family the time, the energy, the attention, and the love and I go too long without doing that, that wall gets pretty shaky and it starts to affect the integrity of the whole house, right?
And this is where we see the interconnectivity of the body, the mind, and the spirit, which is just a bit cliché these days but it is very true, right? Everything is connected and it’s just building that awareness of that. So that’s the five F’s and — sorry, I know I go off in this little tirade and I get to — it feels like I’m preaching at times. I’m not trying to intend for —
Bryan: That’s a good explanation.
Bryan: One question I was thinking of when I was listening to you describe it, like you strike me as somebody, Dai, who’s got a lot going on, how do you identify what to work on next or what to focus on next?
Dai: I appreciate you asking me that, Bryan, because it’s — at times, I think — yeah, I’m laughing right now because I think we all are guilty to some level of this where we have the best of intentions, we know what we ought to be doing or what we ought to be working on or what needs our attention but life gets in the way, you know? We get in our own way and we tend to not do sometimes the things that we know we should be doing.
And, you know, I see this a lot, especially as it relates to fitness because, for myself, I know that if I’m active and I’m giving myself a little bit of physical activity every day, I feel good. I feel better. I sleep better. My engagement and interaction with other people just feels like it flows better. I feel less triggered by things that are stressful like I know that by doing that one thing, everything else just feels like it’s a little bit easier and if I don’t give it that time and energy, uh-oh, that’s where I start to run into challenges. And so, for me, I’ve realized that like that house, I have to create time and notice I said “create time” and people are like, “What do you mean by create it?”
Well, I look at time blocking on my calendar and some people think time management and that’s what they think I’m referring to and I’m like no, no, I want you to strip down time management and refer to it as commitment management because I’m committing to blocks of time because time is intangible, right? Like — but I’m trying to turn it into something tangible, something like an inventory item and people are like, “Dude, you’re way too structured.” I’m like if I’m not this structured, things will start to slide. Something will have to give. I need this sort of organization but I’m not so prescriptive about what to do at what minute of every day and I just wanna be clear on that, but what I look at is we are all dealing with the same amount of time every week, right? We got 168 hours to play with. A good chunk of that is gonna be spent sleeping, right? So that’s taken care of.
A lot of us have careers or jobs that have a required amount of time that we have to show up. Okay, that’s covered as well so you block that out. Now you look at the things that matter most, like me, it’s that fitness, faith, family, finances, right? The fun, those five F’s. I make commitments every day. I block time for me to have quality family time. And I’m not prescriptive in the sense that I say, “Oh, here I’ve got 2 hours scheduled today for family time at this time so I know from 6 PM onward, I’m checking out on everything else today, I’m just focusing on family,” but it could mean me and my family making a meal together, going for a walk, watching a movie, sitting on the couch and binging on Netflix. I mean, it’s just time with, but I’m not prescribing what we’re doing by the minute.
But it gives me structure and it gives me my — allows me to prioritize the things that I know need focus, time, and energy and so that’s how I look at my calendar and that’s what’s allowed me to stay very focused on the things that matter most and family’s the one and my fitness, those two always get booked first.
Bryan: Out of curiosity, what’s your — what type of training do you do?
Dai: Oh, well, I’m a big fan of functional fitness and so this is usually a lot of movement —
Bryan: Is that like CrossFit?
Dai: Yeah, I enjoy CrossFit. I was active in CrossFit for, gosh, 12 years and competed to a Canadian level, national level and —
Bryan: Wow, impressive.
Dai: Well, it was until I had a major injury.
Bryan: CrossFit can do that.
Dai: Yes, it does and — but like any sport, you know, that can happen and I had a back injury, a couple of vertebrae, some issues, and — either way, I’m not gonna compete anymore but there were aspects of CrossFit that I really enjoyed. I liked the high-intensity and smaller bursts. I also loved weight training. So, it was neat to be able to couple weight training with this high-intensity interval training because it was a very unique modality that hadn’t really been done in that way before CrossFit came to be and so I loved that aspect but, for me, it’s just about moving my body with purpose.
I like to elicit a little bit of a sweat and if I’m sweating a little bit every day, I’m showing myself that I care about me. For me, it’s the great mental mindset, like those endorphins that I get from doing that activity, it makes me way more focused, way more engaged with people, and, to be quite frank, it just makes me feel good all-around because, Bryan, if I was to ask you, you know, like when people ask me about fitness and you may relate to this, I’m like there’s very few activities — actually, there’s probably a lot of them but, for me, there’s very clearly a couple of activities that I’ll never, ever regret doing, right?
Like there’s certain activities like working out, if I have a workout today, which I will, I’m scheduled in a couple of hours to go to the gym and have a quick workout, I would never write to someone after that or say to someone after that, “You know what, I worked out today, I really regret that I did that,” you know? Like I am never going to say that. I’ve never heard anybody say that. Now, we might jokingly be like, “Oh, man, that was way too many burpees, I’m feeling pretty sore, I really regret doing those burpees,” well, we say that in jest. Truthfully, we’re really happy. We’re proud to be able to say that, right?
Bryan: That I got through them, yeah.
Dai: Yeah, exactly. I endured it, I survived, right? And so we joke about it but we are very serious. It’s not something that we regret. We’re very proud. We’re happy. It’s something that’s good for us. Same like eating a salad. I’ve never had a client write to me and say, “You know, I had that big salad for lunch, that nice cedar plank salmon. Man, I really regret eating that for lunch.” I’ve never had that message.
Bryan: I should have gotten the chips and cheeseburger.
Dai: Yeah, right, but if you really become that mindful and that — you have that inner conversation, that conversation with yourself, you check in, it’s like, okay, well, I’m scheduled to do these things today, any of these activities after the fact, will I be sitting there and kicking myself thinking, jeez, why did I do that? I really regret that I did that thing. It’s becoming aware of that because there’s obviously a very real feeling and response that you have to doing that activity.
There’s certain things that make us feel fulfilled, make us feel joyful, happier, more in sync with just life and then there’s things that detract from that and so I’m just about trying to adhere to more to the side that creates positive results, right? The side that we don’t regret doing versus the side that I do regret doing. And so that’s been really helpful and that’s where also the five F’s come into play because it gives me some guidelines, it gives me a framework through which I can pass some of my daily commitments.
Bryan: So when I was looking at your book and also your podcast and some of the other content that you have online like you bring a lot of your personal story into it and you bring a lot of energy into it, but somebody listening to this, if they were writing, let’s say, a piece of non-fiction or even a piece of fiction and they were afraid of being vulnerable because of what people will think or they’re afraid of revealing something personal for the same reason, like what would you say to them?
Dai: Well, I always like to ask a question and it’s like, “What are you afraid of? What is the fear?” Like what is it about sharing that piece of information? Because, really, to others, it’s just a piece of information. To us, it’s way more meaningful than that, right? Like there’s a lot of emotional and in some cases very much a lot of psychological connection to whatever that thing is, that story, that experience that we’ve had and so I like to ask people, “What is the concern? Like what is that worry about sharing this?”
And, often, it comes down to a fear of being judged, having what we share used against us, right? That person almost like an attacking, and I get that. That’s all very real fear. I’m not saying that’s false like that’s a silly thing to be afraid of. No, it’s a true concern.
But then it’s asking ourselves, because just as an example, just over 11 years ago and I won’t go into all the details because it’s actually in the TED Talk, I talk about this, but there was an experience I went through where I made a decision to stop drinking and it came because I hit a point where I felt like I was at a rock bottom. I didn’t have many more options and my life was gonna take a very serious turn for the worse if I didn’t choose to try to pursue a life where that wasn’t my main way of escaping stress, right?
And overwhelm and anxiety, like it was just my numbing agent. It was how I escaped every day. And so I had to learn healthy ways to do that but now sharing and talking about that for the last 5 years, sharing that openly, yeah, I was vulnerable and, yes, I’m embarrassed for some of the things that I’ve done. Is there some regret there? Absolutely. I can’t change the past though, and I’ve realized I just can’t keep running away from it either. And when I started to share the story, it wasn’t from a place — and this is what Brené Brown says in some of her books when she talks about vulnerabilities, being vulnerable isn’t about creating shock or awe, you know?
If that’s your intention for being vulnerable, for sharing something very personal, that’s not the best motivation and I wouldn’t even call that being vulnerable because there’s a different intention there. But if you’re sharing and your desire is for deeper connection and understanding, maybe potentially empathy, right? I’m not saying sympathy, but empathy, just giving people the opportunity to say, “You know what, I’ve had that similar experience. Thank you for being open and sharing that with me,” because that is what I started to receive as far as messages from people. I wrote a series of articles on my website called Addiction-Free Life, you know, and that was sort of the theme for that series of seven posts and the amount of comments and feedback I received from people just saying, “Jeez, thank you for sharing,” and I was sharing some pretty low moments, specifically around family and —
Bryan: That’s hard to do.
Dai: It was really hard. I’ll be honest with you, Bryan, it is very, very hard. I’m not saying this is easy but it is very much worth it and I think that we all connect through story. I mean, if you look at the hero’s journey, as coined by the Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell, he’s done all this research. Through the millennia, for as long as we’ve been telling stories, he documented a lot of this and the observations that he observed in the storytelling and he created what we now refer to as the hero’s journey, right? And when you look at that, we can all see our own lives in that reference to this hero’s journey. We all go on these epic journeys, which are our lives.
We encounter people along the way that impact us, sometimes in a positive way, sometimes in a negative way, but we try to learn. It doesn’t stop us from wanting to continue on this journey of growth and learning and purpose and — but we do get stalled along the way, but what do we do when we’re stalled? And the crazy thing is, I think about some of the struggles I’ve been through, had other people not been vulnerable and shared their own stories of dealing with that kind of struggle, I don’t know if I would have felt as confident or as empowered to be able to make the changes myself.
Like I’m just being honest, it’s those stories that I’ve heard other people tell that have given me permission to be not only vulnerable myself but also be able to tell the story and, in telling it, it is quite cathartic, you know? Like I feel better about it. I don’t feel as ashamed about it any longer because, all of a sudden, now, I’m like, hey, I’ve made mistakes but I also have learned from them and this is what I’ve done since and it’s — I don’t deny it, I’ve made some really poor decisions in my life. I’ve disrespected and I’ve hurt some people and I will continue to try to make amends for that for the rest of my life. I’m not running from that but I felt this need to just share the story, share what I’ve learned, share the struggle.
And the most incredible thing was, Bryan, as soon as I started doing that, people just started to say, “Me too,” and I think we saw this, you know, a number of years ago, especially with the #metoo movement and that’s not what I’m trying to reference when I say “me too” but I think it’s important to acknowledge it, you know? It just took one woman to stand up and say, “Here’s the experience I had,” but then it was that second person that acknowledged it and said, “Me too,” and that is where it all really started to happen, right? It’s that instant connection we have where we’re like, jeez, we’re not on this thing all by ourselves anymore. We’re actually all in this together.
And so I think when it comes to storytelling, vulnerability is just a wonderful way to bring people into the story and it makes it real.
Bryan: I’m just looking at your bio as well, like you’re a distinguished Toastmaster. I was in Toastmasters years ago and story is a big part of public speaking. So, it sounds like — that’s something you brought into your TED Talk as well.
Dai: Very much so and there’s the Maya Angelou quote, right? Which we see played quite often, but — and I’ll just paraphrase but it’s that whole idea that people may not remember what you say or do but they typically will always remember how you made them feel and it’s in storytelling that we really do elicit a lot of emotions. We can. We really can.
And if you connect with them on that emotional level, they remember the story. They remember how it made them feel, remember the impact, and that’s always what I’ve wanted to do. I just wanna try to — like I said, educate, inspire, and motivate and try to do it in a fun and engaging way and I found that the most effective way to do that is with story.
Bryan: When you started sharing that type of content online, did that help you find more clients or more public speaking gigs?
Dai: It really did — well, especially on the speaking opportunities, even I had some wonderful spokesperson opportunities come to me from very large contracts with some companies and also just opportunities to travel. I’ve worked with Disney, I’ve worked with Nike, I’ve worked with Microsoft. I’ve had some pretty attractive clients and doing some very interesting campaign work around that but it was me intertwining my own story, my own beliefs, my own knowledge, and intertwining the product into that and sharing a story on that which engaged an audience to also wanna be a part of that and I think it’s fun. I love doing that stuff and — but if I wasn’t telling stories, you know, no one wants to be sold a product, right?
We don’t, like, come on, it’s like just another advertisement and I never wanted to be seen as that. I didn’t wanna be like, “Oh, jeez, we just pay this guy and he puts up a post and yada, yada.” I’m like, no, I only talk about stuff that I already have a relationship with that I love but then I like to share how I find benefit, how my life has improved or changed because of that product, that service, that offering so that’s been one thing that’s been really useful from a monetization standpoint is those opportunities started to present themselves as I grew my audience, but the big thing that was driving my audience was the fact that I was willing to share some personal things and people engaged with that. They connected with it. They felt like they had an opportunity to say, “Me too.” I was able to indirectly give them permission to start sharing their own story and I think that’s so wonderful, you know? It’s basically what you’re doing also with your podcast, right? Like you create a platform that allows people to share a personal story and your audience clearly learns from that. They benefit from that. They themselves also grow and, in turn, will hopefully encourages them to also engage with a similar path and, especially, you know, just becoming a writer —
Bryan: Yeah —
Dai: I mean, that is an —
Bryan: — it’s great to talk to other writers. It can be hard, all right, but it’s great to talk to other creative people who are doing stuff online and figure out like how they think about it.
Dai: I was gonna say there’s nothing more vulnerable I think than writing a book, you know? It’s pretty vulnerable, period. It’s a lot of work but it’s also just — we put ourselves out there. We do. We put ourselves out there in a big way at times and I applaud that.
Bryan: So I wanted to ask you about your TED Talk before we run out of time. What was it like to give a TEDx, TED talk? Could you take listeners behind the scenes?
Dai: Sure, it was the scariest thing ever. No. It was pretty intimidating and it’s been on my vision board, quite literally, like I have a digital vision board because it’s always on the front of my laptop, my laptop screensaver, and on there has been this one tile that’s “Do a TEDx Talk,” right? And for the longest time, it’s just — it’s been on the vision board and I’ve always thought about it and thought about it and I was like, “I really wanna do this,” and I just — things hadn’t lined up.
We were traveling quite extensively as a family and so anytime I thought there was an opportunity, I wasn’t anywhere long enough to embrace the process. And, if people aren’t familiar, it is quite a lengthy process. It was literally from the time that I was presented the opportunity to potentially, like I was just presented the opportunity to apply to be considered as a TEDx speaker at a local event here in Western Canada, and from that time of being invited to apply to the actual day of stepping on stage, 7 months.
Bryan: Wow, that’s really a long time.
Dai: It was a long time, man. It’s like I don’t take 7 months for anything anymore, you know? Like it’s a long time. And it literally went from the application along with a draft and then they shortlisted it so they went from like 300 down to I think 85 and then that was trimmed down to 25 and then there was a spoken audition where you would do a read of the actual talk that’s already been somewhat edited and then they narrow it to 12 and, from that point on, it was 4 more months of just practice and this is us refining the script, refining the delivery, and right to the point where — when you’re stepping on stage, you’re not even thinking about the words, you’re feeling the words, do you know what I mean? Like it’s —
Bryan: Was somebody from TEDx editing the talk with you before you delivered it?
Dai: Yeah, so this was really neat. Now, I understand that this isn’t necessarily common with all TEDx or TED events. This team that — this is their third year running this particular event and it’s Canada’s premier TEDx event so they typically get a live audience of about a thousand people.
This year, it was only done online, live streamed, and they had about 3,000 people on the live stream so it was actually kinda cool because they tripled up on their audience because of it being in the online space but where I was going with this is that they have a curation team and then they have a dedicated team of coaches and each coach only works with two people. So there were six coaches as well as a head coach and these are provided by the TEDx event team themselves to then coach and mentor us speakers from concept, draft, to eventually a finished script, to then internalizing that and being able to deliver it from the stage.
So it was pretty cool, like — and that’s why when I share this, I wanna make it very clear, this could be potentially a very unique situation but I’ve been led to believe that this is common for a good chunk of them, where they have a dedicated coaching team, but they helped me with that and would give me feedback on delivery and it was really quite awesome but it was also intimidating at the same time because I’m a kind of speaker where typically I don’t script anything, ever. I am just sort of a go-with-the-flow kind of speaker and I’ve got lots of stories that I interweave but this is very specific, you know? It’s a talk that was to be delivered in 10 minutes and every word had a purpose and so, in a way, it’s kind of like writing a book, right? Like it’s —
Bryan: It is, that’s what I was thinking, it’s very similar.
Dai: It is very, very similar. That’s what it reminded me of. It reminded me of working with my editor as well as one of — I had a couple editors I worked with on my first book and the manuscript and it felt like that, right? And especially us as speakers and authors and writers and creators, it’s hard to self-edit. It really is, like, my goodness, and especially like the nature of the TEDx Talk that I was doing was such a massive personal element to it and being told, you know, to cut stuff out, dude, it was so hard ’cause I’m like, “How are they — they’re just not gonna get it,” and I’ll tell you, what I delivered versus what my original first draft was, it was one-third the length. One-third, and, yeah, it’s crazy. Crazy.
Bryan: Like a first draft of a book almost always gets chopped down too.
Dai: That’s right. I started with 2,500 words, it was gonna be closer to the 20-minute mark and then we trimmed it down to 10 minutes. And even then, I probably — like I’m looking at it now and I’ve relistened and I’ve watched it a couple times since and I’m like, you know, there’s a couple parts there I may have been able to even cut out. So I was thinking, like can I get this down to 7 or 8 minutes, same sort of — and be just as effective? And this has — it’s taught me a lot as a speaker and as well as a writer, just to go through this process of — it was just a different perspective that I hadn’t had the pleasure of experiencing up until this point so I encourage everybody do it, like as much as we probably maintain everyone’s got a book in them, I believe everyone’s got a TED talk in them too.
Bryan: Yeah, many books can be TED Talks. Dai, we’re almost out of time, so where can people find more information about you, your work, or your book or wants to talk?
Dai: Oh, well, thanks, Bryan. Well, my website is a great resource. I’ve got about 1,800 articles I’ve published over the last 14 years there, all geared to helping people get more out of life. That’s all it is, you know? It’s fitness, it’s faith, it’s finances, it’s family, it’s all my F’s rolled into one big site so have fun there. It’s just daimanuel.com, and as far as social is concerned, I’m most active on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram and the easiest way to find me is you just type in my name, Dai Manuel. The cool thing about having a unique name, you know? You’ll find me, send me a message, say, “I heard you on Bryan’s podcast, I love this, this is my — these are my five F’s,” whatever, I just love having conversations, but that’s the easiest way to get ahold me.
Bryan: I’ll put the TED Talk link in the show notes as well. It was very nice to talk to you today, Dai.
Dai: Bryan, thank you so much. I really appreciate the opportunity and I’m looking forward to having you on my podcast and I’ll just make it known now, I’m launching one this summer, and summer of 2020 — wait, 2021, I mean. I’m like, “I’m a year behind,” but I’m looking forward to having a conversation with you so I just thought I’d make it known —
Bryan: For sure, yeah. I’ll take you up on that offer.
Dai: I can’t wait.
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